A White House spokesman Thursday declined to say whether President Obama remains confident in Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's leadership of the department, repeatedly deflecting questions on whether he will be fired.
White House press secretary Jay Carney stressed that Obama remains satisfied with Shinseki's overall record, especially when it comes to helping veterans homelessness and their access to the G.I. bill's education benefits.
But when asked pointed questions on whether Obama continues to support him in the top VA post, Carney sidestepped them, noting that Obama is waiting for the results of an internal investigation led by White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors.
“[Obama] is extremely troubled, as we said yesterday, about the preliminary results reported by the IG,” Carney said. “And he looks forward to a full investigation by the independent inspector general and the full results of that investigation.”
Carney said Obama also is awaiting the receipt of Shinseki's review.
“Reviews are important, but they should not preclude taking action now where we know we can — and the VA can to speed up service to our veterans in those areas where it's been identified that waits have been too long, and that is what he expects to take place,” Carney added.
The pressure on the White House to fire Shinseki has ratcheted up in the last 24 hours since the release of a VA inspector general report that found myriad systemic problems with the treatment of veterans, including that Phoenix-area veterans waited on average 115 days to receive care.
Last week, before the preliminary IG report's release, Carney said the Obama has confidence in Shinseki's leadership.
NBC News on Thursday quoted an anonymous White House aide saying Shinseki is "on thin ice."
When asked about the report, Carney said only that he's "just not going to speculate more about personnel."